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Crude Oil WTI Mar '18 (CLH18)

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Crude Oil WTI Futures Market News and Commentary

Crude and Gasoline Market News and Commentary

Feb WTI crude oil (CLG19) on Friday closed up +$1.73 (+3.32%) per barrel and Mar Brent crude (CBH19) closed up +$1.53 (+2.48%). Feb RBOB gasoline (RBG19) closed up +2.28 cents per gallon (+1.59%). The energy complex rallied sharply Friday with crude prices at 1-1/2 month highs and gasoline at a 5-week high on optimism the U.S.-China trade war may soon be settled. Optimism increased after China, the world's second-largest crude consumer, offered to escalate imports of U.S. goods to shrink its trade gap with the U.S. a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was said to be in favor of eliminating tariffs on Chinese goods in order to strike a trade deal. The trade optimism fueled a sharp rally in equities, which boosts confidence in the economic outlook and energy demand. Signs of slower OPEC crude production is further underpinning crude prices as OPEC Dec crude output fell -751,000 bpd to 31.58 million bpd, the biggest monthly decline in nearly two years, led by a -468,000 bpd cut in crude production from Saudi Arabia. Also, OPEC Dec compliance with its crude production cuts rose to 163% from 112% in Nov, the most in 8 months. Crude prices extended their gains Friday afternoon after Baker Hughes reported that U.S. active oil rigs fell by -21 rigs in the week ended Jan 18 to an 8-month low of 852 rigs.Big Picture Crude Oil Market Factors: Bearish factors include (1) the surge in U.S. oil production to a record high of 11.9 million bpd, (2) the recent stock market turmoil where the S&P 500 dropped to a 20-month low and China's Shanghai Composite sank to a 4-year low, which undercuts confidence in the global economic outlook and in energy demand, (3) the recent rally in the dollar index to a 1-1/2 year high, (4) the increase in crude supplies at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI futures, to a 1-year high, and (5) increased U.S. crude exports that add to global supplies after U.S. crude exports in the week ended Nov 30 rose +761,000 bpd to a record 3.203 million bpd. Bullish factors include (1) the -530,000 bpd decline in OPEC Dec crude production to a 5-month low of 32.62 million bpd, (2) the increase in OPEC Dec compliance with its crude production cuts to 163% from 112% in Nov, the most in 8 months, (3) the reinstatement of full U.S. sanctions on Iran as of Nov 5, although the U.S. gave waivers to 8 countries for up to 1.25 mln bpd of Iranian exports, (4) the agreement by OPEC+ on Dec 7 to cut crude oil production by 1.2 million bpd for the first six months of 2019 (800,000 bpd for OPEC members), which should soak up much of the expected 2019 global oil surplus, and (5) the 50% drop in Venezuelan production seen since 2016.
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